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3 Golden Rules for Managing Money in a Relationship

  February 12

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valentines day proposal copyWoo-hoo – Saturday is Valentine’s Day! And do you know what that means? It’s Julep’s birthday! Yep, time to celebrate. For anyone new here, Julep is my dog. 😉

All joking aside, we’re not doing anything too fancy on the day which I’m sure comes as a complete shock to everyone. 😉 Actually, we’re pretty stoked to be going out to get a cheeseburger on Sunday which is quite the luxury these days ever since we severely cut our grocery budget. It really is the little things!

It’s taken hubs and I a long time to develop the way we manage money together. Managing money in a relationship takes time, commitment, and communication. It’s not easy, especially when there are two different people who might have different tastes, wants, and needs. Hubs and I are in a really, really hectic season of life right now. We keep wondering when it’s going to end and lighten up again but it continues to be pretty tough. As many of you know, he’s in medical school and I’m a work from home mom to our twins. Because of all that and the bizarre hours we keep, like me writing this post at 11:30PM, it can be hard to find time to discuss our finances together. The important thing is, though, that we make an effort to communicate about money to keep our relationship strong.

I really believe that just like relationships, finances also take time and attention. Once you’re in a relationship, you’re not allowed to call all the shots like you did when you were single. Lame, I know, but it’s totally worth it to be in a successful partnership.

If you need help in this area of your life, here are the three golden rules of money management in a relationship that we like to live by:

Go On Dates

This may not seem like financial advice, but bear with me. I’m mostly talking about a highly romantic finance date You can prepare dinner together and then sit down just the two of you. We always have our financial dates at night to make sure there are no distractions. Otherwise, one of the babies would be crying and we’d be trying to talk over the noise while jiggling said baby on our laps and it just didn’t work. I know this may not be the most exciting type of date to go on with your partner, but it’s a very important one. Just make sure you two put some money aside in your budget to go on some non-financial dates now and then too.

Give Each Other Some Space

Giving each other some space, financially, is a great way to ensure both parties feel appreciated. Each person in the relationship has things that are important to him or her, and it’s important those things are recognized in your family budget and financial goals. I value getting my hair done now and then, while my husband appreciates a new bowtie or watch once in a while. For our relationship to work at its best, we have to recognize and understand that while we are a couple, we are also individuals with our own wants and needs. By setting aside a little money for each of us to use on the things we value, our relationship is so much stronger and neither one of us feels deprived.

Balance Each Other Out

We’ve all heard that “opposites” attract. and I really believe it’s true. There’s almost always a spender and a saver in the relationship. Each has their pros and cons and when the spender and saver work as team, amazing things happen. In my relationship, I’m the saver and I’m also the day-to-day money manager. I keep track of the accounts and the budget most of the time. It’s not because my husband doesn’t care about our finances; it’s because that’s what works for us. Sometimes I get way too obsessed with saving money, and my husband has to balance me out and tell me that it’s okay for us to spend a little money on fun once in a while. Without this balance, I’d burn out or have a really boring life. However, because one of us is a saver and one of us is a spender, together we are able to see both sides of the picture and thus we usually make pretty well-informed financial decisions.

Really, once you’re in a serious relationship, managing money becomes a whole different ballgame, and it can be difficult to get things figured out for a while. In the end, you and your partner have to decide together which money rules make sense for you to follow and which ones to throw out the window.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you go all out or make it a frugal one?

It's taken hubs and I a long time to develop the way we manage money together. Managing money in a relationship takes time, commitment, and communication. It's not easy, especially when there are two different people who might have different tastes, wants, and needs.

19 responses to “3 Golden Rules for Managing Money in a Relationship

  1. We always have to choose the Frugaltine’s Day. I and my wife spend this occasion like almost everyday. (Sweet). But during this day, we just dine in, cook our favorite dish, and have fun. I prefer going all out during her birthday or our anniversary. Valentines day makes restaurants crowded, so we avoid this hassle.

  2. Happy birthday Julep :)! I can’t think of a more romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day than by going on a finance date ;). But seriously, it really is an investment in the future of a relationship. Creating a shared financial outlook has been such a wonderful gift for Mr. FW and I–it just makes life easier and less stressful! Hope you two lovebirds enjoy your burgers :)!

  3. Love what you said about giving each other some space. Rick’s monthly “fun money” is more than I think it should be, but it makes him happy, and it’s not an outrageous amount of cash, so I let it go. A successful relationship is all about continuing to work together. Have a great Valentine’s Day. We’re staying home with the kids and making a wonderful Italian dinner.

  4. Aww Happy Birthday Julep! It’s so true what you said about how opposites attract. My bf is definitely the spender in the relationship and I’m the saver, but we balance each other out pretty well and he’s open to adopting a lot of my frugal ways so it’s all good. We do acknowledge Valentine’s Day but this year we both agreed to do something low key because we have a lot of other things going on financially. So we will probably go out to eat with a gift card and do some ice skating near the house and just spend some quality time together.

  5. I would really like to start going on more money dates 🙂 We don’t officially have these because we’re both so obsessive with checking bank accounts and bank statements, but as life has gotten busier, work more hectic, we could really benefit by having an organized, set time to sit down and check everything out together once a month. Thanks for the reminder to make this happen! Hope you guys have a good weekend and enjoy that cheeseburger.. and Happy birthday, Julep!

  6. Loved this post Cat! Happy birthday to Julep of course 🙂

    We don’t plan on doing anything for Valentine’s day. We usually don’t. I prefer it that way! I think a finance date sounds wonderful.

  7. We will be hosting family for the weekend, so the romance will REALLY be flowing in this house.

    It’s true. Couples fight about money… We started talking about finances soon after we were engaged. We basically combined everything while still having separate accounts until the I Dos were officially said. At the time, we agreed to follow a budget (looking back, I use that term very loosely) and make sure neither of our accounts got overdrawn. The thing is, we didn’t fight about how much money we should allow for each category. That part was easy. We fought about how to build the spreadsheet to keep up with it all – Two engineers here! I won that battle. And now nearly eight years later, I still keep the spreadsheet…

  8. We usually celebrate Valentine’s Day by baking something together. It’s cheap and sweet.

    I love your tips for managing money together. I think it’s very important to realize that couples are still individuals with different values and to let the other person in your relationship have some spending money. It’s taken some time for me to really appreciate how much he (the spender) balances me out with my super-saving ways. Thanks to him, I’ve loosened up a little bit and have been able to enjoy things while I’ve talked him out of some random spending. We’re pretty much on the same page financially, which is what’s most important.

  9. My husband and I really struggle with those financial “dates” you describe. We know how important they are – but we’ve never managed to make them remotely romantic. Maybe if we add that dinner you mention . . .
    Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy that cheeseburger : )

  10. I really like the recommendation of going on dates. It’s something that can so easily be forgotten once you live together! We have no plans for Valentine’s Day other than cleaning the house together and sorting some papers. We may take the pup for a hike depending on weather!

  11. Hubby and I never officially celebrate Valentine’s Day because we think it’s a silly holiday, but tomorrow Will is actually going into the city to watch All-Star practice at Madison Square Garden so hubby and I are going to enjoy a day together and the biggest thing we are going to “splurge” on is a bikram yoga class nearby. Can’t wait!

  12. Of all the “there’s a [blank] and a [blank] in every relationship” I think “spender/saver” is the most true! I can’t think of a single couple I know that doesn’t fir that. I agree that the balance it provides is really important — though you definitely have to have the same goals in order to find that balance!

    We like to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but prefer experiences over gifts. Going to a concert at the local music academy (free!) and a nice dinner out with friends is more our style. And I like to hit up the after-Valentine’s flower sales. =)

  13. Money is one of the main sources of conflict in couples, so I am very grateful that my husband and I have similar spending/saving habits. It has saved us a lot of arguments (and money). Otherwise, I guess communicating openly, and letting the saver control the finances, would work.

  14. Foe me, keeping money 100% separate is the key. After almost 25 years, we never fight about money. She spends what she wants, I spend what I want. The house payment was handled by me, and she contributed just a bit to it.

    As long as both are saving, and not only one spending, it works out great. We both max out 401K, IRA and HSA.

  15. People always say that there’s a spender and a saver in each relationship, but I don’t think we fit into those categories, really. We’re both pretty frugal, and we both have our spending weaknesses. Do other couples really fit into “spender” and “saver” pretty clearly?

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